France and the U.K. Hit Pause on Their Fishing Dispute, but It Isn’t Over

France and the U.K. Hit Pause on Their Fishing Dispute, but It Isn’t Over
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels, Dec. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

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Brexit-watchers had their eyes fixed on Paris today for a meeting between French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune and U.K. Brexit Minister David Frost to discuss the two countries’ dispute over fishing licenses. It doesn’t appear any solution has yet been found, though France isn’t yet following through on its threat to ban British ships from French ports. A U.K. spokesperson said Frost will meet with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in Brussels tomorrow to discuss the issue, and he and Baune will continue talks next week. So though the rhetoric may be cooling, the dispute still threatens to derail U.K.-EU relations.

The intensity of France’s reaction to the fishing dispute with the U.K., in which Paris is accusing London of not abiding by the terms of the Brexit divorce deal to maintain fishing rights for French and other European Union vessels in British waters, seems to have taken the British political and media establishments by surprise. But attempts to dismiss the row as merely political theater ahead of Macron’s reelection bid misses the depth of Europe’s exasperation and annoyance with the U.K.  

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